TORONTO — Don Cherry says the men’s locker-room is no place for a woman.
The outspoken CBC hockey broadcaster made the comments during his weekly Coach’s Corner segment of “Hockey Night in Canada” on Saturday night while discussing the controversy around Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith.
Keith was criticized earlier in the week after delivering what some considered a sexist post-game putdown to a female radio reporter in Vancouver.
Cherry believes the reporter — Karen Thomson of Team 1040 — shouldn’t have been allowed in the Blackhawks dressing to begin with.
“I don’t believe women should be in the male dressing room,” said Cherry, causing his broadcast partner, Ron MacLean, to grimace.
“I remember the first time it happened to me,” continued Cherry, “guys are walking around naked and I hear this woman’s voice. I turn around and she’s asking me about the power play. I say, ‘Let’s go outside.’ She said, ‘I’m not embarrassed.’ I said, ‘I am.”‘
MacLean responded by voicing his support for “equal opportunity” as Cherry questioned him on whether he would be OK with men being allowed in the dressing room when MacLean’s wife, Cari MacLean, plays hockey.
“You want men in the dressing room with women?” asked Cherry.
“I don’t feel women are equal. I feel they’re above us. I think they’re on a pedestal and they should not be walking in when naked guys are walking in. And some guys take advantage of it and I don’t think (they) should be.”
Keith was the subject of criticism after Thomson questioned him in post-game scrum about a slash on Canucks star Daniel Sedin during a 3-1 Chicago loss to Vancouver on Monday.
Keith took exception to her suggestion he got away with a slash.
“We should get you as a ref maybe, eh?” he said. “The first female referee. You can’t play probably either, right? But you’re thinking the game like you know it? OK, see ya.”
Keith later apologized for the exchange and said he was “fired up” after an emotional loss and meant no disrespect to women.
Reactions on Twitter after Cherry’s comments were overwhelmingly in disagreement with the 79-year-old.
“I’m embarrassed by and for Don Cherry and for CBC. Sorry,” tweeted Vancouver-based CBC sports reporter Karin Larsen.
Tessa Bonhomme, an Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian women’s hockey team who covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, also had words for Cherry.
“Just for the record. I have NEVER seen a naked player in a dressing room. Nor am I looking for one when I’m in there. #JobToDo”